Baked Ziti

I’ve been planning on making baked ziti since thanksgiving, and finally got around to it. In fact, for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me, I did a double batch. The quantities that follow are for a normal pan full, just double if you want extra, it’s barely any extra work.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb box of Barilla dried ziti n.74 or mostaccioli n.71 pasta (or half-half)
  • 2 links hot Italian sausage (.25 lb)
  • 2 links sweet Italian sausage (.25 lb)
  • ½-1 jar Classico D’Abruzzi sauce with sausage
  • ½-1 jar Barilla Marinara sauce
  • red or white wine
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in an 8 quart pot. Add some salt and a splash of olive oil. When at a full boil, add pasta and cook for 9 minutes, then drain and return to pot.
  2. Sear the sausage on all sides in a frying pan coated lightly with olive oil. When brown on all sides but not cooked through, remove from pan and slice thinly. Add back to pan and cook on both sides until brown and cooked through. Add to pasta.
  3. Add sauce to pasta. Start with ½ jar of each, stir, and add more to taste, until it looks “juicy” enough. Stir in cooked sausage.
  4. If the sauce jars are empty, rinse out with a splash of wine. Add to pan and deglaze, then stir in to pasta. If there is still leftover sauce in the jars, then just add the wine directly to the frying pan.
  5. Add the ricotta and about ¼ cup (or to taste) freshly grated parmesan cheese, and stir to mix. Spoon into a 9”x13” pan greased lightly with olive oil (or non-stick cooking spray).
  6. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake in preheated 350F oven or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  7. Serve with a side of more baked ziti. Or a salad if you want to be healthy about it. And red wine.

Notes

  1. Yes, I use store-bought sauce for this. With everything else going on its fine. But if you are Italian and/or your grandmother would have a fit if she found out, feel free to make your own.
  2. You may be tempted to buy some pre-shredded “mozzarella”. Don’t. I guess it’s ok if serving to kids (in which case leave out the hot sausage too), but please try to use the real stuff. Doesn’t need to be the fancy stuff, the prepackaged supermarket kind is fine.

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